From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : e-NAM
Mains level : Alternative Market Channels for Farmers, Limitations of e-NAM
The start of the coronavirus pandemic coincided with the peak vegetable harvesting season. As the markets were locked down, there was a threat to the crop in over 100 lakh hectares in the country.
Alternative Market Channels
- The alternative market channel works on the principles of decentralisation and direct-to-home delivery.
- The idea is to create smaller, less congested markets in urban areas with the participation of farmers’ groups and Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) so that farmers have direct access to consumers.
- It is providing a valuable option against the lockdown when efforts to avoid crowding in the wholesale markets are likely to continue.
Success in Maharashtra
- Maharashtra is one of a handful of states where FPCs are robust.
- The model, implemented by the state Agriculture Department and Maharashtra State Agri Marketing Board (MSAMB), requires urban and rural local bodies and other stakeholders to buy into the agricultural marketing chain.
Innovations in food supply chain management are always a hot topic in mains answers. Talk about decentralization and give examples of a successful implementation and you are all set for a good answer.
How does it work?
- The government and MSAMB identify farmer groups and FPCs, and form clusters; local bodies choose the market sites and link the markets for direct delivery to cooperative housing societies.
- The FPCs and farmers’ groups are allotted space for weekly markets in municipal wards or localities.
- Some producers group park pick-up trucks loaded with fruits and vegetables at the gates of housing societies.
Why need such a mechanism?
- The traffic of both buyers and sellers in these decentralized markets can be controlled more effectively than in wholesale mandis — a key advantage when social distancing is critical.
- Most FPCs have minimized contact, and have taken to selling pre-packed, customised packets of vegetables.
- This will likely help create alternative market chains that could continue even after more normal times return.
Conclusion: A boon for the farmer
- The practices of rudimentary packing, sorting and branding are being inculcated in farmers, as they pack and send pre-ordered packets to housing societies.
- With this, a larger numbers of vegetable growers in Maharashtra have got into direct selling to consumers thus bypassing middlemen.